In no case are we building a doctrine upon the distinction between calling, choosing, ordination, appointment, and commissioning.
We seek a working definition by which to distinguish the moment of God’s assignment and His meaning of revelatory instruction for leaders. We see some very clear distinctions that must be made, but we do not have a consistent entitling of the process by which they are instituted or the ceremonial identification by which they are inaugurated.
We see the laying on of hands, the extension of the hand, and the handling of the candidate, so to speak so that he lands into an assigned position. We see the ordained and commissioned taking a specific posture in alignment. We do not see the application of “order” defined by Roman error, but we do see that ordination and commissioning produce order for kingdom leadership.
Ordination and commissioning differ in two distinct ways: one is recognition of calling; the other is a recognition of metron assignment. We would say that either or both can be informal or formal. Paul and Barnabas obviously minister in ordination before Antioch. They are commissioned to an expanded scope or metron.
Recognition of God’s expansion in metron would be commissioning. Recognition of calling and function in calling would be ordination.
When Barnabas introduces Paul in Jerusalem, and the pillars recognize his calling and function in calling, we could see ordination at that moment. It was not calling Paul to ministry but recognizing God’s call and Paul’s function in the call.
Jesus gives His apostles authority. This is ordination. Jesus later gives His apostles authorization. This is commissioning.
A person is called from his mother’s womb. Inception includes calling. Calling is more general. Choosing is more specific. Many are called. Few are chosen. Calling remains constant in its voice of purpose. Choosing marks moments of personal authorization, a setting-into position for more specific and expanded function.
Paul is called from his mother’s womb. He is far from that calling when accosted by Jesus on the way to Damascus. In that encounter, Jesus identifies Paul’s calling. He sends Ananias, a prophet, to inform Paul of that calling: “Tell him that he is My chosen vessel.” Called, then chosen.
A Calling can be broad. The Choosing is more specific. God’s Commission is even more specific.
The word “ordain” is used in the translation of at least seven Greek words or meanings. The English meanings carry the idea, “to set into position,” and this answers to the meaning of some of these Greek words. The English definitely suffered from religious use in Roman Catholicism. This does not empty the word of its meaning when applied to the meaning of Greek words in the New Testament. We need not give the Roman error ownership of the words “ordain” or “ordination.”
Ordain means, “set in order.” It comes quite appropriately after calling because calling has the sense of appointing, choosing, positioning, and authorizing. We see fifteen Greek words translated by “appointing.”
The meaning of “ordain” cannot be passive. That is, we would err to assume that ordination is the byproduct of some other action.
God ordains many things. He also ordains His callings of men and women. Yet, the function of calling requires the recognition of kingdom leaders.
So, we use the word “ordain” properly, as an English form for the Greek words, when we apply it to the action taken to set a person into place or position to function.
The word is Biblical and answers to “the choosing” that moves a few into a function.
Many are called. Few are chosen. Ordination recognizes the choosing. It is important for three reasons:
- It validates a person’s function;
- It initiates anointing at the level of function;
- Its instills revelation that convinces the person to sustain function.
With ordination, we make the first sweep of the broom to cleanse the kingdom of frauds. We do have fraudulent ordinations, of course, and these should trigger apostolic and prophetic leadership responses.
We should not allow fraudulent ordinations since that undermines the entire kingdom protocol for validating kingdom leaders. The entire kingdom culture suffers when we tolerate fraudulent ordinations.
With ordination, we signal the initial steps of a person’s leadership. We say, “This person is called and chosen.” But, we also say, “This person can function in the ministry to which he is called.” That does not mean the person is an eldering leader.
It means they have some level of function. We do not make a novice an elder. Elders have both expertise and experience.
With ordination, we start the kingdom leadership process through which a called and chosen leader gains experience. During the ordination season of ministry, the ordained functions in a team with a fathering leader.
- They do not have their own ministry.
- They do not have their own message.
- They do not have their own method.
They deepen trust. They move in shared passion. They increase submission. They learn obedience.
Commissioning refers to a person who is authorized to act or perform in an appointed role, to do a service, who is put into commission, receiving a commitment, thus entrusted to carry out an assignment.
Jesus called His apostles, chose them for preparatory discipling, ordained them to identify them publicly, and commissioned them more than once to represent Him in specific scope or metron of assignment.
Most commonly, the first commission of the twelve and other fifty-eight who went with them, recorded in Matthew 10 and Luke 10, and the Great Commission comes after the Resurrection. One has the scope of Israel in a shortened period of time. The other has the scope of the entire world and kingdom history, “until the ultimate moment of the age.”
When a called and chosen, ordained person matures, God will determine the moments in which one or several commissionings occur. For most, that will be one or two. For some, it might be three or four. Commissiong always points to expanded metron and increased authorization.
Acts 13 reveals the process as it applies to Paul and Barnabas. This is not the only revelation of commissioning in the Bible, but it very clearly a commissioning by our definition.
Holy Spirit chooses the called to be commissioned for expanded metron. Two very active leaders receive an eldering commission. The wording used reveals the spiritual reality. “Separate” means “expand the borders that define authorization.” The scope or metron of both apostle increases. This expansion is recognized by eldering leaders who then lay hands upon Paul and Barnabas and commend them to this broadened scope of representation.
Each of us should be aware of calling, ordination, and commissioning in our own kingdom leadership. None of us should step out of assigned metron. None of us should step beyond the calling. None of us should step over the boundaries of our assignment. None of us should exceed God’s authorization.
Paul and Barnabas return back to Antioch to report. Accountability for and reporting about what they did while they had been gone. They were sent to Jerusalem by elders in Antioch. The elders in Jerusalem clarified the issues that brought Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem.
Silas stayed in Antioch. Then, he and Paul set out in expanded assignment together.
Paul maintains accountability based upon the alignment of his assignment. Commissioning creates a relational dynamic between the kingdom elders who commission of the one commissioned. That can involve one or several eldering leaders.
God’s calls. God chooses. God ordains. God appoints. God commissions. God assigns. God aligns. God does all these things in a way that requires kingdom leadership, so that kingdom leaders implement God’s decisions. Without human leadership, God’s decisions are not properly implemented.
No one calls, chooses, ordains, appoints, commissions, assigns, or aligns himself.